Russian orthodox
Total population
133–150 million [1]
Regions with significant populations
Majority Populations
Russia Russia 111,016,896 [2]
Minority Populations
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 3,793,764 [3]
United States United States (ancestry) 3,072,756 [4]
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan 1,199,015 [5]
Belarus Belarus 785,084 [6]
Latvia Latvia 556,422 [7]
Ukraine Ukraine 8,334,141 [8]



Mainly Russian Orthodox Church, atheism, agnosticism and Old Believers

Related ethnic groups

Ukrainians, Belarusians, other Slavs

Russians (Russian: Русские) are an East Slavic ethnic group that is native to Eastern Europe, in Russia and northern Ukraine. Due to the historical Russian (and later Soviet) occupations of Central Asia and the Batlic states, many Russian populations can be found in the countries of those regions, and the Russian language is still spoken in many of those nations.

The Russians have their own unique and glorious history, as Russia is considered one of the great civilizations of the world, that has had far-reaching influences and impacts beyond Russia, Europe and the world. Many of the world's most influential scientists, artists, engineers, literary figures, musicians, religious and political leaders were Russians. 

Russians occupied the largest empire in Europe, and among one of the largest in Asia, conquering all of Central Asia. The Russian Empire was one of the world's competing empires, and from 1922 to 1992, the succeeding Soviet Union formed a military rival to the United States, with its own bloc of allies, forming one of two of two main global superpowers, the other being the United States. From 1922, Soviet culture emerged as a uniquely different subset of Russian culture.

Modern Russian culture is deeply embedded within the Orthodox Church, particularly the Russian Orthodox Church as well the influence from the late Soviet Union, which due being communist, was Atheist in nature. Russians still continue to be dominant players as a power in the global stage today. Slavic nationalism and identity was and is also influenced by Russians, who historically often-not, aided other Slavic Orthodox nations against their enemies.


The term Russian literally comes from the Old East Slavic kingdom of Rus. This was a collective medieval kingdom of the people who spoke the eastern dialect of the Old Slavic language.


Early History & Kievan Rus'

Russians trace their origin from the ancent East Slavic tribes, as well as warring Caucasian and Mongolic tribes that had occupied what is now Russia. In
Kievan Rus

Kievan Rus'

fact, most of the ancient Russian rulers were Vikings themselves. The state of Kievan Rus is also known as Kievan Russia, loosely administered from Novgorod, which serves as the main precursor to modern Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, as well as their people and cultures. The names Russia and Belarus are derive from this civilization.

Many of the early East Slavic people were referred to as Russians. A Viking (also known as Varingian) prince known by the name of Oleg (Олег) moved the adminstration of the Rus' from Novgorod to Kiev and further united the people of Rus' into a collective kingdom. When Vladimir the Great (Russian: Влади́мир) came to the throne, Christianity replaced Paganism and would become the main religion of the Kievan Rus'. Vladimir is also known as "St. Vladimir" for spreading Christianity to the majority-Pagan Kievan Rus'. In 1019, Yaroslav I the Wise; following a victory over his rival Svyatopolk; took the throne of Kiev. Under his rule, the Kievan Rus' saw the height of its power. The Kievan Rus' eventually met its destruction and dissolution. through poor rulers and Mongol invasions.[9]

Grand Duchy of Moscow 1283-1547

One of the earliest precursor Russian states was the Grand Duchy of Moscow (Russian: Великое Княжество Московское, Velikoye Knyazhestvo Moskovskoye) or Grand Principality of Moscow, also known in English simply as Muscovy). This was a loose federation of Eastern Slavic states rule by princes.

Moscow and Eastern Europe had suffered from constant raids by the Mongol Golden Hoarde, therefore causing the Rus' to flee to forested areas of Moscow. Moscow was established as a protectorate trading territory of the Golden Horde.

Daniel I was the first Prince of Moscow, and his descendants, conquered nearby territories and married into Mongol royalty to enhance Moscow's power status. 

In 1325, Ivan I, one of Daniel I's descendants, became Grand Duke of Moscow, and the close-knit relations with the Mongol rulers allowed him to control and conquer Moscow's rivalling state of Tver up north. Under the rule of Dmitry Donskoy from 1359 to 1363, Moscow began to challenge the surrounding city-states, from Tver, to the Golden Horde and the Muslim Tatars.

Dmitry also united the warring Russian states, to challenge the Golden Horde, defeating his own commander at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380.

Under the rule of Vasily II, who was blind after torture at the hands of his enemies, Moscow was rocked by civil war and family fueding from 1425 to 1462. Under Vasily II's reign, the Russian Orthodox Church emerged as an independant church free of control from the Patriarch of Constantinople. In spite of extreme odds he faced, Vasily II still emerged victorious, and passed the throne to his son, Ivan III who would in Russian history, come to be known as "Ivan the Great".

Muscovite-Lithuanian Wars

Main Article: Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars
The Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars (also known as Russo-Lithuanian Wars, or just either Muscovite Wars or Lithuanian Wars) were a series of wars between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, allied with the Kingdom of Poland, and the Grand Duchy of Moscow. After several defeats at the hands of Ivan III and Vasily III, the Lithuanians were increasingly reliant on Polish aid, which eventually became an important factor in the creation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Before the first series of wars in the 15th century the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had already gained control of a lot of Rus' territories, from Kiev to Mozhaisk, following its collapse after the Mongol invasions. Over the course of the series of wars, particularly in the 16th century, the Muscovites were able to expand their domain westwards, taking control of some of the lands that were once part of Kievan Rus.

Tsardom of Russia

The Tsardom of Russia also known as Tsardom of Muscovy,[10][11]</span>(Tsardom of Rus') or, in hellenized form, Российское царствo[12][13]) was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 until Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.

From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 (about the size of the Netherlands) a year.[14] The period includes the upheavals of the transition from the Rurik to the Romanov dynasties, drawn-out military conflict with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as well as the Russian conquest of Siberia, leading up to the 42-year reign of Peter the Great, who ascended in 1682 and transformed the Tsardom into a major European power, after a military victory over Sweden and Poland implemented substantial reforms and proclaimed the Russian Empire (Российская Империя) in 1721, making it a recognized power in Europe.

Acquiring of Ukraine

Russia continued its territorial growth through the 17th century. In the south-west, it acquired eastern Ukraine, which had been under Polish-Lithuanian rule. The Zaporozhian Cossacks, warriors organized in military formations, lived in the frontier areas bordering Poland, the Crimean Tatar lands, and Russia. Although they had served in the Polish army as registered mercenaries, the Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Host remained fiercely independent and staged a number of rebellions against the Poles. In 1648, the peasants of Ukraine joined the Cossacks in rebellion during the Khmelnytsky Uprising, because of the social and religious oppression they suffered under Polish rule. Initially, Ukrainians were allied with Crimean Tatars, which had helped them to throw off Polish rule. Once the Poles convinced the Tartars to switch sides, the Ukrainians needed military help to maintain their position. In 1654 the Ukrainian leader, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, offered to ally Ukraine with the Russian tsar, Aleksey I. Aleksey's acceptance of this offer, which was ratified in the Treaty of Pereyaslav, led to a protracted war between Poland and Russia. The Truce of Andrusovo, which ended the war in 1667, split Ukraine along the Dnieper River, reuniting the western sector (or Right-bank Ukraine) with Poland and leaving the eastern sector (Left-bank Ukraine) as the Cossack Hetmanate, self-governing under the sovereignty of the tsar. However, the self-government did not last long and Eastern Ukraine was eventually fully incorporated into the Russian Empire

Conquest of Siberia

Main article: Russian conquest of Siberia

Russia's eastward expansion encountered little resistance. In 1581 the Stroganov merchant family, interested in fur trade, hired a Cossack leader, Yermak Timofeyevich, to lead an expedition into western Siberia. Yermak defeated the Khanate of Sibir and claimed the territories west of the Ob and Irtysh rivers for Russia.

From such bases as Mangazeya, merchants, traders, and explorers pushed eastward from the Ob River to the Yenisei River, then to the Lena River and to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. In 1648 Cossack Semyon Dezhnyov opened the passage between America and Asia. By the middle of the 17th century, Russians had reached the Amur River and the outskirts of the Chinese Empire.

After a period of conflict with the Qing Dynasty, Russia made peace with China in 1689. By the Treaty of Nerchinsk, Russia ceded its claims to the Amur Valley, but it gained access to the region east of Lake Baikal and the trade route to Beijing. Peace with China strengthened the initial breakthrough to the Pacific that had been made in the middle of the century.

Russian Empire 1721-1917

The Russian Empire was formed from the remains of the Kieven Rus. Russian rulers were called czars (Russian: царь) which is Russian for the Latin word ceaser meaning emperor. Sometimes it is also spelled as tsar or tzar which eventually became a common title for all Slavic rulers. When the Russian Empire came the under the rule of Czar Ivan III and extended Russia's borders. Ivan the Great defeated the Mongol forces and overthrew its rule over Russia, giving it an independent status. He also conquered the city of Novgorod.[15] Ivan III's successor, Ivan IV or Ivan the Terrible; wasn't so great hence the name Ivan the Terrible. Ivan IV was a ruthless czar who destroyed all opposition and killed family members, including his own son. In terms of military however, Ivan the Terrible reflected Ivan the Great and extended Russian territory, conquering the Turkic Khazar Kingdom.[16] In 1862, the Russian Empire reached its most glorious age under the rule of Czar Peter I, or Peter the Great. Peter I observed the history of Russia and sought to westernized it, followed by a desire to create a reminiscent of the Roman Empire. The empire saw a great renaissance and numerous building projects under Peter I, including the Winter Palace, one of Russia's greatest architectural features. He also worked to industrialized and urbanize Russia, he sent groups of workers into the hot and swampy areas of Russia and turned them into the great thriving city known as St. Petersburg or Petrograd.[17]

Naval Conflict with Japan 1904-1905

Peter the Great also had a deep interest in naval and maritime activity and worked to give Russia some naval
Russo-Japanese War

Russian troops in a trench during the Russo-Japanese War

domination in eastern Europe. However as Peter the Great's reign ended along with the approach of the 1900s, Russia's naval and military power met opposition from its eastern neighbor, Japan and the two collided over northern Pacific territory and the Chinese region of Manchuria. The Russian and Japanese forces collided in a year-long conflict known as the Russo-Japanese War over ports in the Pacific Ocean which is known as the first major conflict of the 1900s. The Japanese forces were better-prepared for this war, attacking many Russian positions and ports, most of the battles ended up in Japanese victories. The Russians eventually surrendered and sued for a peace. In 1905, Russia and Japan signed the Treaty of Portsmouth. The Russian defeat shocked the world, and gave Japan a new status as a power.[18]

World War I 1914-1917

Despite losing to Japan, the Russians continued to rebuild their army, which proved be to slow due to the poor governing skills of Czar Nicholas II who many argue was responsible for Russia's loss against Japan. The Russian military continued to compete with those of the other European nations such as Britain, Germany and France who were the western powers. The Russians also signed a series of treaties and pacts with other Slavic nations such as Serbia and Bulgaria. On June 28, 1914; a radical Serbian nationalist by the name of Gavrilo Princip murdered the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife during a speech in Sarajevo, which is the modern-day capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This caused the Austro-Hungarian army to declare war on Serbia.[19] Since Serbia was an ally and protectorate of Russia, the Russians retaliated and declared war against Austria-Hungary, who was an ally and protectorate of Germany who then declared war on Russia. The Russians eventually entered World War I on the side of western allies, but still failed to achieve a victory against the Germans. The Russians were fairly slow in advancing and adopting to the new modern technology of the time, such as trenches and machine guns. The Russians ended up signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918 which officially withdrew Russia from World War I.[20] Another clear reason was the on-going revolution in Russia, in which leader Vladimir Lenin pulled Russia out of the war.

Russian Revolutions 1917-1922

In 1917, with a defeated Russian nation fed up with Czar Nicholas II, the February Revolution violently ousted Czar Nicholas II and his family out of power in what is known as the First Russian Revolution
Red Army

Red Army Militia

 which established a short-lived democratic and provisional government, in which the former Russian Empire was turned into the Russian Republic.[21] They were organized by workers' councils, known as Soviets. Another group, known to be the "Reds" (where the "Red Army" name comes from), or the Bolsheviks (Russian: большевики) fought the provisonal government in the October Revolution, or the Second Russian Civil War. The Reds' goal was to establish an economic system of equality and elimination of class stratification and religious rule known  as communism. It originated from a German philosapher by the name of Karl Marx.[22] The Red Army was led under revolutionary named Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Russian: Владимир Ильич Ульянов), more commonly known by Vladimir Lenin (Russian: Владимир Ильич). The anti-communists, were not as united as solidified as the communists, became known as the "White
Volunteer Army infantry company

White Army militia in southern Russia, 1918

Movement" or the "White Army". They consisted of a mix of provisional government supporters, religious leaders, monarchists, and others with the only mutual goal of fighting the communists. The Red Army was transformed from a revolutionary militia, to the official military ground force of Russia.[23] The former Russian Republic to the Russian Soviet Republic, and in 1918, a new constitution offiically rename it the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

M any White Russians fled from the new communist nation en masse. Many fled to France, Shanghai, United States and Canada. They became known as the "émigrés".  The Red Terror would soon follow, in which Russian culture, as it was pre-1922, took a heavy hit. Many literary works, due to being religious in nature, perished in the Red Terror. Many religious leaders, and those of signifiance, perished in the Red Terror as it was also a genocide of suspected White Russians. A new Russian Soviet culture would come to take its place for many decades soon to follow, as Moscow transitioned from a haven of Orthodox culture, to a haven of communist and atheist culture.

Vladimir Lenin would, in the decades following be a symbol of communist revolution, revered even by communist and socialist nations that did not pursue

A 1932, post-civil war White Russian propaganda poster

Soviet policies, or even disagreed with Soviet policies, such as socialist Yugoslavia.

In the following years, the Soviets would extend their influence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, concerning many of the western leaders. The Soviets funded communist paramilitary groups in other countries to help establish Marxist governments in those nations. During the 1930s however, the Soviet sphere of influence was challenged by the rise of a new form socialism in west, Fascism, started in Italy and popularized in Germany by Adolf Hitler.

Thus, the 1930s the begin the first "Cold War", between Soviet-backed communists and German-backed Fascists. The Soviets and German spheres of influence indirectly collided in the Spanish Civil War, which was won by Fascist forces.

In 1939, the two socialist states finally met in Poland, where it was divided between a Soviet-controlled eastern Poland and a German-controlled western Poland.

Stalinist Era 1922-1953

Christ saviour explosion

Destruction of the original Christ the Savior Cathedral in 1931

Following Lenin's death, the Soviet Union fell under the leadership of Joseph Stalin from the Georgian SSR, after defeating his Jewish rival Leon Trotsky (who favored global socialism as opposed to Stalin's "socialism for one country"), subsequently having him murdered while in Mexico. Stalin was a native of the Georgian SSR and not an ethnic Russian from there. Stalin led a very and opressive regime in the Soviet Union, , which came at the cost of 62 million lives (mostly ethnic Ukrainians) under his order.[24] Stalin also continued many aspects of the Red Terror, including more demolitions of Russian Orthodox Churches.

Stalin also worked to rebuild the Soviet military and enforced harsh industrial policies, resulting in great expansion of the Red Army. Under Stalin, the Red Army fared a lot better in the Interwar Period, more so than the Imperial Russian Army under Czar Nicholas II and the Red Army in its infancy under Lenin.  Stalin's rule also took a toll on the rural populations, where Stalin enacted a policy known as collectivization, in which farmers were forced to sell their produce and livestock for a lot less than their true worth.


A Stalinist propaganda poster

Stalin also invaded smaller countries to enforce military domination in eastern Europe and even Asia having defeated China in 1929. In 1939, the Soviets invaded Finland, though failed to dominate Finland. That same year, Mongolia was fighting an independence war against Japan. The Soviets helped the Mongolians fight Japan, and defeated Japan that year, winning Mongolia as a protectorate territory. The Soviets also defeated Japanese forces in Manchuria. After these victories, the western nations officially felt threatened by the power of the Soviets, a phenomenon known as the "Red Scare".

Stalin also led one of the greatest political terrors of the 1930s, known as the Great Purges, in which he murdered political opponents, out of sheer paranoia. Many high-ranking intellectuals within the Red Army perished during this era, which would ecome to bite back when the Germans began their invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Winter War 1939-1940

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact designated Finland as part of the Soviet sphere of influence. In 1939, the Soviets invaded Finland, citing the need to be able to protect Leningrad, which was only 20 miles south of the Finnish border. The Soviets demanded that Finland give up land in exchange for land somewhere else, which the Finns rejected, leading Stalin to invade Finland and engage in what is known as the Winter War (Finnish: talvisota, Russian: Зи́мняя война́).

Despite having a larger and more powerful army, the Soviets were unable subdue Finland, partly in thanks to the harsh winter environment in Finland in which the Soviets wore inettiquite apparel for. Many Soviets died from frostbite. In addition, the Finns also had superior small-arms equipment and a stubborn will to resist, allowing them mow down entire Soviet divisions.

The Finnish military tactics would later influence the Soviet military in their war against Germany.

In the end, the League of Nations declared the Soviet invasion illegal, and expelled the Soviet Union from the League of Nations. However, the Soviets were able to gain land around the Finnish border areas.

World War II 1941-1945

Raising of the banner

Soviets raising their flag atop the destroyed Reichstag in Berlin

Over in the west, the outcome of World War I was the Treaty of Versailles which harshly blamed Germany for the war. Germany's new dictator, Adolf Hitler, committed atrocities of his own, killing off non-Aryan peoples, as well as the onslaught of France and military domination of western Europe. At the Eastern Bloc, the Soviets were dealing with their own problems and shared a similar goal and the two powers mets in Poland in 1939, dividing Poland into a German west and a Soviet east. Joseph Stalin was tricked by Adolf Hitler by signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact also known as the German-Soviet Pact, which promised non-aggression between the Soviet Union and Germany via the Partition of Poland. However, unity with the Soviets was not of Hitler's plan who had a deep hatred against communists like Stalin, as well as Slavs. After pounding the western countries with ruthless iinvasions, Hitler turned
Battle of Stalingrad

Soviet troops firing flamethrowers during Stalingrad battle

his attention to the Soviet Union in 1941 and invaded it. Despite having numerical superiority, the Soviets, having been mentally battered by the Great Purges, were poorly led and were pushed all the way back to Stalingad. Many Soviet troops were captured by the German invaders, and sent to POW camps to undergo torture. The Soviets endured through starvation, and were known for their total disregard for high casualities. The brutal Russian winter and heavy mud-slides in the warm regions of Russia also caused the German machines to malfunction. This bought time for the Red Army to re-mobilize. In 1942, the Soviets thwarted the German invasion from Moscow. In 1943, the tides turned when the German war machine finally fell in Stalingrad, giving the Soviets a major victory. Leningrad soon followed, which finally marked the

Signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact

beginning of the end of Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union. The Soviets made the push west all the way into the heart of the Third Reich. In April 15, 1945, they reached Berlin. Adolf Hitler tried to mimic the Soviet gallantry in Stalingrad by mounting a strong resistance against the Soviets, which they did. The Germans still failed to make their last-stand a victory. The Soviets shelled Berlin and penetrated deep into the Reichstag, the capitol of the German parliament and sealed their victory with raising of the Red Banner atop the Reichstag marking the final destruction of the German war machine.[25]

Cold War 1946-1992

Political/Military/Technologial Competition


Soviet nukes on display during a military parade in Moscow

The Soviet Union grew out of the ruins of World War II as a military superpower, containing Europe's biggest army and the world's second most powerful single military, continuing to pose a border threat to the western nations. Eventually, the Soviet military would come to grow as the world's largest lone military force.

The only nation that stood in its way was its western and democratic counterpart, the United States which had nuclear weapons capable of turning any nation into a total barren wasteland in a matter of seconds. The Soviet Union established itself as a bastion of communism. However, rifts within the communist bloc, due to doctrinal differences led to the Soviet Union breaking ties with Yugoslavia in 1948 and China in 1956, despite having courted with the two in the early days after World War II. 

170px-Vostok1 big

Launching of Vostok 1 from Biakonour Cosmodrome, in the Kazakh SSR (today Kazakhstan)

In 1949, the Soviets breezed past that the nuclear threat challenge by testing their own atomic bomb which was a success, heightening more fear in the western world and it had become obvious that the Soviets were trying to outdo the United States in the biggest global arms race and indirect confrontation known as the Cold War.[26]  The possession of nuclear weapons only persuaded both sides to avoid direct confrontations, in fears of a nuclear apocolypse and a conventional defeat of either nation. The Soviets possessed ground and nuclear supremacy, the United States enjoyed naval and aerial supremacy, as well as stronger allies. The Soviet Union and United States stood as the two world lone powers (China was arguably a third lone power as well), competing against one another through proxy wars instead of a direct confrontation known as a "hot war" - using other nations to do their biddings. 
280px-Sputnik asm

Sputnik 1, the first space satellite

Nikita Kruschev's decision to open ties to the west infuriated Mao Zedong of China, who considered himself a true communist, and Krushchev's policies to be anti-communist. This led to the Sino-Soviet Split of 1956. This led to China entering the Cold War as a third player, also funding and supporting overseas regimes to combat both the Western and Soviet blocs.

This became obvious during the Vietnam War, when the Soviet-backed communist forces of northern Vietnam defeated the United States-backed pro-democratic armies of southern Vietnam, who held out for nearly twenty years (1955-1972) until the United States could no longer take the pressure and withdrew its troops and support. The Chinese supported Cambodia's communist regime under Pol Pot, expelling Soviet advisors from Cambodia. However, the Soviet war machine eventually faced a backlash in Afghanistan after during a failed attempt to annex it after being defeated by American and Arab-backed militias in Afghanistan. The conflict also came in the Korean Peninsula right after World War II with Sovlet and Chinese-backed North Korea and American-backed South Korea.[27] Through the spread of communism, the Russians were able to control other countries and spread their influence.  As the Cold War progressed, the Soviet Union contained the largest military force, both in terms of conventional or nuclear weapons.

Both countries competed for space domination, and the Soviet Union was able to make scientific breakthroughts in the history of space exploraton. In 1957, the Soviets launched the first space satellite, Sputnik 1. Sputnik 2 followed that same year, launching a dog by the name of Laika, to be the first living animal sent into outer space. 

In 1961, the Soviets launched the first human, Yuri Gagarin into outer space via the Vostok 1 spacecraft. However, the United States ended up becoming the first to send a man to the moon with Neil Armstrong via the Apollo 11 space mission.

Cultural Competition With the West

The Soviet Union and United States became national rivals but only did both compete in military strength, but also in many sports events; with the Soviets winning most of the time. In 1980, the a boycott was led against the Olympic games which were supposed to be held in Moscow. It was relocated to Lake Placid in New York City, where an even known as the "Miracle on Ice" occurred. A hockey team, composed of young college kids defeated the superior and Soviet hockey juggernaut, winning the Gold Medal for the United States.[28]

Post-Cold War Era 1991-present

RIAN archive 848095 Signing the Agreement to eliminate the USSR and establish the Commonwealth of Independent States

Signing of the Belavezha Accords, between the leaders of the former Russian SFSR (today Russia), Ukainian SSR (today Ukraine) and the Belarusian SSR (today Belarus), December 8, 1991

In the 1980s, Soviet power began to weaken, due to flaws in its leadership, in that most Soviet leaders were aging war veterans. The oil inflation damaged the Soviet Union's oil industry and the policies of Ronald Raegan'e economics further helped foment the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. In the late 1980s, anti-communist revolutions raged Eastern Europe, overthrowing pro-Soviet governments one by one.

As communist governments in Eastern Europe fell, the Soviet Union was left in severe isolation. China, despite being communist, had cemented close ties with the West. Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost policies of openness and freedoms of the press and media only helped spearhead the coming catastrophe for the Soviet Union.

Soviet tanks in Red Square during the 1991 Coup Attempt

By 1991, most of the republics of the Soviet Union ignored any political legitimacy from Moscow and had begun to enact their own political policies and systems. On August 19, 1991, hardliner communists attempted to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev for his openness policies, a coup that failed. 

On December 8, 1991, the leaders of the Soviet Union's three main Slavic republics - namely Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, signed the Belavezha Accords, effectively ending the Soviet Union. On Christmas, December 25, 1991 (in accords to Moscow time), the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time atop the Kremlin, and replaced with the tri-color for the pre-1922 revolution.

The Russian Federation, of the former Russian SFSR, was considered the legal successor state to the Soviet Union, and held all of the Soviet Union's obligations. Boris Yeltsin would be Russia's first president in the post-Cold War era. As such, the Russian Federation inherited the largest bulk of the former Soviet military.

The Russian Federation attempted to keep a quasi-Soviet influence over the former Soviet Union by creating the Commonwealth of Independent States, a bloc that ended up to be a failure. Russian soldiers withdrew from most former Soviet and Warsaw Pact territory, save for Crimea, Tajikistan and Armenia, retaining a presence in those countries. 

In the years following, Russia suffered a Constitutional Crisis in 1993 followed by a financial crisis in 1998. In this instance, Russia transitioned from a superpower (as the Soviet Union) into a third-world nation in ruins, marked by the rise of oligarchic and mafia rule, as well as rampant anarchy, crime and corruption. Russian military spending fell to $10 billion or less. Life in all of the former Soviet Union reflected these disasters.

The collapse of the Soviet Union had fomented the United States' status as the sole global superpower, rivalled only by China.

Recovery and Return to Global Prominence 2008-present

The twenty first century under Vladimir Putin and for some time, Dmitry Medvedev saw a slow, but steady recovery of Russia's economy and even its miiitary.


Russian forces in Georgia, Russo-Georgian War 2008

In 2008, Russia performed its first overseas military operation in the Russo-Georgian War, annexing South Ossetia and Abkhazia in nothern Georgia. In 2014, Russia sent military forces into Crimea under the support of pro-Russian rebels. While the West sees it as an illegal annexation, Russia argues that Crimea belonged to them in the first place. In 2015-2016, Russia was actively involved in the Syrian Civil War, helping Bashar al-Assad's regime against rebels and ISIS. In 2017, Russia and Syria agreed to continue Russian military presence in the naval base of Tartus, one of the Russian Federation's few overseas bases.

Still, even in the post-Cold War era, Russia's relations with the West have been hostile, with Russia often supporting opposing regimes to those supported by the Western powers. American Democrats blame Russia for hacking and interfering in the 2016 United States Federal Presidential Elections. A number of cyber incidents have also been attributed to Russia. Russia has also been accused of attacking ex-Soviet spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in Australia with nerve gas. In spite of this, many Russians have also embraced the post-Soviet era, finding their successes in the West. Many have become successful bussinessmen, athletes and celebrities in the United States and abroad. In addition, Russian culture and arts is still a popular point of studies among schools worldwide, with Moscow still being a popular place of the performing arts. Russians are very well known in the dance art ballerina. Russian language is also offered as a major foreign language in many schools outside of the Russian-speaking world.


Old Church Slavonic
he Russian language is a world major language and is spoken by 258,000,000 people either as a native or second language. Russian is a direct descendant of the Old East Slavic language. The Russian language is still spoken by minority Russian communities in former Imperial Russian and Soviet states such as Lithuania, Ukraine, Estonia, Poland and Romania; and also contains communities of speakers in Israel, United States and Canada. Russian is spoken as the national language of Russia and Belarus and a co-official language in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan which are all former Soviet states. It is spoken as a minority in Central Asian republics that no longer declare Russian as an official language, such as Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. It is the most spoken non-official language in Israel, which contains the world's third largest Russian-speaking population outside of the former Soviet Union. Belarussian, Ukrainian and Rusyn are related languages to
Russian book store

A Russian bookstore in the Israeli city of Arad

Russian. They are also descended from Old East Slavic. There is also another language in Russia known as Church Slavonic, also a Slavic language. Church Slavonic is the liturgical language for the Eastern Orthodox Church (see religon below). Church Slavonic is also used in other Slavic countries as well that are followers of eastern sections of the Orthodox Church. The Cyrillic alphabet is used to write the Russian and Church Slavonic languages. The Cyrillic script itself had been a different dialect-script of Greek and originated in Bulgaria. The script was perfected by Greek linguists and religious leaders, St. Cyril and Methodius which became Russia and many other Slavic states' official scripts.


St. Basil&#039;s Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral

Most Russians are followers of the Russian Orthodox Church, with also large numbersof atheists and agnostics. This is governed by the Patriarch of Moscow. For long, the Eastern Orthodox Church has been deeply embedded into East Slavic culture, creating somewhat of an ethno-religious identity. Prior to the October Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin, Russia was at one point, consiered a haven of Eastern Orthodoxy, and many looked to Russia as a protector of Orthodox Christians, and the sucessor to the Byzantine Empire.

After the emigration of White Russians from Russia proper during the communist regime, the Russian Orthodox Church has found itself in many parts of the world, as White Russian refugees formed communities all over the world. The Russian Orthodox Outside Russia (Russian: Ру́сская Правосла́вная Це́рковь Заграни́цей), is a section that traditionally rejects the authority of the Patriarch of Moscow, due to the former's allegiance to the Bolsheviks during the Soviet era. New York City, home to one of the largest Russian-American population, is the city of jurisdiction for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. In addition, Russian Orthodox can also be found in many countries of the former Soviet Union, however they are under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Moscow.

The Greek and Cryllic scripts function as liturgical scripts for certain Orthodox sections. When Orthodox Christianity was introduced to the Slavic people by St. Vladimir the Great; domes became part of Russian architecture. This is an influence that shows Greek-Byzantine origin. St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow is a perfect example. This cathedral is a famous landmark in Moscow, the snowy capital of Russia and a world UNESCO site. The colored onion domes atop the cathedral reflect the glorious imperial history of Russia. During the Soviet era, Atheism crept its way into Russian culture, as the Soviet authorities often tried to suppress Orthodox culture, and all religion in general. As a result, many Russians are also atheists and agnostics. 


The cuisine of Russian evolved from several historical periods of the country. A lot of the cuisine can be traced back

Pelmeni, Russian dumplings

to early peasants who had to survive the brutal Russian winters, who passed on their traditions. There are also Mongol and Turkic influences in Russian cuisine. In addition, staple ingredients include fish, game (meat that is hunted and not bought), mushrooms, honey as well as berries. Meat and game is boiled for long periods of time. Wheat, rye and barley provide dishes such as breads, pancakes, cereals. Staple beverages include milk, beer and vodka. Kvass is a sour milk that is used to make a cold soup known as okroskha (Russian: окрошка) in the summer time. Sour cream is also used to top okroshkha. There is also a dumpling known as pelmeni (Russian: пельме́ни). Pelmeni originated from Siberia, brought over by Mongol tribes. Pelmeni is much more similar to Mongolian buuz
Chicken lapsha

chicken lapsha

dumplings that it is with Chinese gyoza dumplings. Despite its Mongol-origin, pelmeni is popular throughout all of Eastern Europe as well, specifically Belarus. Medovukha (Russian: Медовуха) is an alcoholic drink made with fermented-honey, also fairly original to Lithuania. This is a beverage that has existed for millenia in Russian and Lithuanian history. Medovukha's alcohol content tends to be generally low. Vodka (Russian: водка) is a distilled alcoholic drink that also originated in Belarus as well. Vodka only contains very few hints of flavoring and is known to be dangerously strong for many consumers. Consequently, vodka is drunken in very small glasses known as "shots". This is a beverage that is no longer confined to Slavic countries and can be found in stores all over the world.

Notable Russians or People of Russian Origin

Alexander Nevsky
Алекса́ндр Не́вский

Saint of the Russian Orthodox Church as proclaimed by Macarius, the metropolitan of Macarius in 1547, Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev and Vladimir who led his kingdom through some tribulations, he is known for his legendary military victories against German, Swedish and Mongol invaders
Ivan III
Иван III
Ivan III
Also better known by "Ivan the Great", the Grand Prince of Moscow, and all of Rus', he is renowned for uniting the Rus', ending the Mongol rule over the its lands - in a sense, turning the Rus' from a confederation of Eastern Slavic peoples into an empire, he is considered one of the longest Russian rulers.
Ivan IV
Иван IV
Ivan IV
Also better known by "Ivan the Terrible" and "Ivan the Fearsom", Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547 and Tsar of "All of the Russias" from 1547 to 1584. He is known for his expansionist policies, and the various Russian conquests of Central Asia and Siberia, turning the Russian Empire into a multi-ethnic empire. His moniker "Ivan the Terrible" comes from his periods of mental instability, killing his own son, Feodor Ivanovich.
Peter the Great
Пётр Вели́кий

220px-Peter der-Grosse 1838

Russian monarch, ruler of the Tsardom of Russia and first ruler of the Russian Empire, he transformed Russia into a major European power, and was responsible for continuing Catherine the Great's modernization and westernization of Russia, his basis of transforming Russia was based on the Enlightenment, the city of St. Petersburg (temporarily renamed Leningrad during the Soviet era) is named after him.
Sofia Kovalevskaya
Со́фья Ковале́вская
First female Russian major mathematician, who is well-known for contributions to analysis, differential equations and mechanics and the first female Full Professor in Europe, also first female editor for a scientific journal, she is the first woman obtain a doctorate in mechanics and first to attain full professorship in Northern Europe.
Anna Pavlova
Анна Павлова
Anna Pavlova

A Russian prima ballerina of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. She was a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev. Pavlova is most recognized for the creation of the role The Dying Swan and, with her own company, became the first ballerina to tour ballet around the world.

Leo Tolstoy
Лев Толсто́й

Russian author who was famous for his novels and short stories, his best known works include War and Peace and Anna Karenina, he also became a prominent Christian anarchist and his writings had influenced promient people such as the Indian independance figure Mohandas Ghandi and the African American activist Martin Luther King Jr.

Alexander Pushkin
Алекса́ндр Пу́шкин

A poet from the Romantic era, considered the greatest Russian poet and considered to be the founder of modern Russian literature, he is famous for his play Boris Gudonov

Anton Chekov
Анто́н Че́хов

Anton Chekov
Russian polymath, physician and author who is renowned as one of the greatest dramatic authors in history, he is also considered one of the greatest short-story writer, Chekhov had at first written stories only for financial gain, but as his artistic ambition grew, he made formal innovations which have influenced the evolution of the modern short story.

Dmitry Mandeleev
Дми́трий Менделе́ев

Dmitri Mandeleev
A Russian chemist, scientist and inventor who formulated Periodic Law, and created the Periodic Table of Elements that would and is still in use by chemists all over the world today.
Anna Akhmatova
Анна Ахматова

A Russian modernist poet, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Russian canon. Her work ranges from short lyric poems to intricately structured cycles, such as Requiem (1935–40), her tragic masterpiece about the Stalinist terror. Her style, characterized by its economy and emotional restraint, was strikingly original and distinctive to her contemporaries. The strong and clear leading female voice struck a new chord in Russian poetry.

Alexander Alekhine
Алекса́ндр Але́хин

A World Chess Champion from Moscow of the Russian Empire, who reigned as the Fourth World Chess Champion. He is often considered one of the greatest chess players ever. By the age of 22, he was already among the strongest chess players in the world. During the 1920s, he won most of the tournaments in which he played. In 1927, he became the fourth World Chess Champion by defeating José Raúl Capablanca, who was widely considered invincible.

Modest Mussorgsky
Модест Мусоргский

A Russian composer, one of the group known as "The Five". He was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period. He strove to achieve a uniquely Russian musical identity, often in deliberate defiance of the established conventions of Western music.

Alexander Petrunkevitch
Александр Петранкевич

Alexander Petrunkevitch
An eminent Russian arachnologist, from 1910 to 1939 he discovered over 130 species of spiders, apart from describing present-day species, he was a major figure in the study of fossil arachnids, including those in amber and from the Coal Measures. He also experimented with live specimens and worked on insects, he was also a skilled machinist and wrote two volumes of poetry and translated Pushkin's works into English.
Ivan Pavlov
Иван Павлов
Ivan Pavlov

A Russian physiologist known primarily for his work in classical conditioning. Born to a religious family, Pavlov abandoned his religious career and decided to devote his life to science. In 1870 he enrolled in the physics and mathematics faculty at the University of Saint Petersburg to take the course in natural science and won the Nobel Prize for Physiology for Medicine in 1904

Grigori Rasputin
Григорий Распутин
A Russian mystic who claimed to have supernatural powers, and held extensive influence over the Russian Empire - especially Czar Nicholas II and his family, people in the court had mixed opinions about him, some seeing him as an important prophet while others saw him as a religious fraud, he lost his fame and creditability as the Imperial Russian Army began losing battles in World War I

Czar Nicholas II
Николай II

Czar Nicholas II
The last tsar of the Russian Empire until the establishing of a provisional government, he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church and has been referred to as "Saint Nicholas the Martyr". His various porgroms, and inability to lead Russia to military victories in the Russo-Japanese War and World War I, at the cost of millions of casualities, ultimately led to his overthrow.
Igor Stravisnky
И́горь Страви́нский


A Russian-born composer, pianist and conductor, known for leading a career filled with stylistic diversity, including neoclassical styles. His first three ballets commisioned, The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring gained him international attention. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century.

Vladimir Lenin
Владимир Ленин

Vladimir Lenin
A Russian revolutionary, militant leader and politician who led the communist Red Army victory over the White Army and overthrew the short-lived democratic government of Russia and established a Marxist-Leninist state that would grow and last for decades until 1992, he is an ever-lasting symbol of communism and communist groups, although mostly Russia, he also contains large alleged Tatar, Chuvash and German ancestry

Nikita Kruschev
Ники́та Хрущёв

Nikita Kruschev
Soviet premier who heightened the Cold War drama between the Soviet Union and the United States, he was also an amid anti-Stalinist and was responsible for the partial de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the early Soviet space program, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy.

Leonid Brezhnev
Леони́д Бре́жнев

Leonid Brezhnev
Soviet military general who became the premier of the Soviet Union in 1964, during his rule, the global influence of the Soviet Union grew dramatically, in part because of the expansion of the Soviet military during this time. He was born in the Ukrainian SSR, and some documents have identified his ethnicity as Ukrainian, but he considered himself Russian.
Vyacheslav Molotov
Вячесла́в Мо́лотов

A Soviet politician and diplomat who rose to power as a result of Joseph Stalin's rule, he was the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars from 1930 to 1941, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1953 to 1956, serving as the First Deputy Premier from 1942 to 1957. He was the main signatory of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, also known as the "Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact" due to the involvement of his German counterpart Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Vassily Zaitzev
Василий Зайцев
Soviet sniper responsible for giving the Nazis a deadly blow during the Battle of Stalingrad World War II and served as a popular propaganda figure for Soviet forces in Stalingrad further motivating Soviet resistance to Nazi occupation in Stalingrad, his rifle is on display at Stalingrad (today Volgagrad)
Georgy Zhukov
Гео́ргий Жу́ков
Georgy Zhukov

A Soviet career officer in the Red Army who, in the course of World War II, played a role in leading the Red Army drive through much of Eastern Europe to liberate the Soviet Union and other nations from the occupation of the Axis Powers and, ultimately, to conquer Berlin. He is the most decorated general officer in the history of the Soviet Union and Russia.

Mikhail Kalashnikov
Михаи́л Кала́шников

A Soviet general and military engineer who invented of the AK-47 assault rifle, he was, according to himself, a self-taught tinkerer who combined innate mechanical skills with the study of weaponry to design arms that achieved battlefield ubiquity

Yuri Gagarin
Ю́рий Гага́рин

A Soviet pilot and cosmonaut who became the first man into outer space, he became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation's highest honour. Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission.
Mikhail Gorbachev
Михаи́л Горбачёв
The last leader of the Soviet Union, re-introduced democracy and capitalism back to Russia, alongside East Germany's Egon Krenz and Poland's Wojciech Jaruzelski, Gorbachev is one of the last surviving leaders of an Eastern Bloc state as of 2014. He was known for implementing the reforms known as perestroika and glasnost.
Vladimir Putin
Влади́мир Пу́тин

Russian politician who is the fourth and current President of the Russian Federation, he also served as the second president succeeding Mikhail Gorbachev and served as the Prime Minister from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012. During his first run as president, the Russian economy and military saw major improvements and growth. Because of his political career, influence and popularity in Russia, he is known as one of the world's most powerful leaders. In 2007, Time Magazine named him Person of the Year. He was ranked as the World's Most Powerful Individual by Forbes from three consecutive years from 2013 to 2016.

Mikahil Prokhorov
Михаи́л Про́хоров

A Russian billionaire, politician, and owner of the American basketball team the Brooklyn Nets. He became one of Russia's leading industrialists, owning major stakes in multinational corporations in the precious metals sector. While he was running Norilsk Nickel, the company became the world's largest producer of nickel and palladium. He is the former chairman of Polyus Gold, Russia's largest gold producer, and the former President of ONEXIM Group. He resigned both positions to enter politics in June 2011.

Eduard Khil
Эдуард Хиль
 A baritone singer and famous internet meme, his gained worldwide attention for his single Trololololololololololo, a recipient of the People's Artist Award of the Russian SFSR, he became known to the international audience in 2010 when a 1976 recording of him singing a non-lexical vocable version of the song "I Am Glad, 'Cause I'm Finally Returning Back Home"
Fedor Emalianenko
Фёдор Емелья́ненко

A retired Russian heavyweight mixed martial artist, sambist, and judoka. He has won tournaments and accolades in multiple sports, most notably the Pride 2004 Grand Prix and the World Combat Sambo championship on four occasions, as well as medaling in the Russian national Judo championship. He received praise from major publications, including Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and He remained undefeated for nearly a decade, before three consecutive losses, including wins over five former UFC champions and five former K-1 champions.

Maria Sharapova
Мари́я Шара́пова
A Russian professional tennis player who is ranked No. 3 in the world by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), and the top tennis player in Russia, she won nine WTA singles titles and the WTA Tour Championships in 2004
Anna Kournikova
А́нна Ку́рникова

A retired Russian American professional tennis player. Known for her appearance and celebrity status made her one of the best known tennis stars worldwide. She reached No. 8 in the world in 2000 and achieved greater success playing doubles, she won Grand Slam titles in Australia in 1999 and 2002. They referred to themselves as the "Spice Girls of Tennis".

Yelena Isinbayeva
Елена Исинбаева

A Russian pole vaulter. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist (2004 and 2008), a three-time World Champion (2005, 2007 and 2013), the current world record holder in the event, who is widely considered the greatest female pole-vaulter of all time. Isinbayeva has been a major champion on nine occasions (Olympic, World outdoor and indoor champion and European outdoor and indoor champion) and a winner of innumerable awards.

Andrei Kirilenko
Андрей Кириленко
72512 Kirilenko
A Russian professional basketball player who plays for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and played for CSKA Moscow where he won the Russian League in 2000, in 2012 he led CSKA Moscow to the Euroleague Final and named the MVP
Nastia Liukin
Настя Люкина
Full name is Anastasia Valeryevna Liukin, a retired Russian American artistic gymnast who won the 2008 Olympic individual all-around and a balance team World Champion in 2005 and 2007 and the winner of nine World Championships tying Shannon Miller, born in the Soviet Union and attained American citizenship when she moved to the United States
Milla Jovovich
Милица Йовович
Mila Jovovich
An American actress, musician, actress and fashion designer; born to a Russian mother and Serbian father in the Ukrainian SSR of the Soviet Union, she is best known in acting for her roles in action movies and science fiction films, and also starred in the video game series Resident Evil and owns Creature Entertainment, her own production company. She is fluent in both Russian and English.
Natalie Wood
Натали Лес
Born as Natalia Zacharenko, an American actress who was best known for her roles on the films Miracle on the 34th Street, Splendor in the Grass and Rebel Without a Cause, born to Russian immigrants in the United States

See Also


  2. ^ a b Ethnic groups in Russia, 2010 census, Rosstat. Retrieved 15 February 2012 (Russian)
  10. Хорошкевич, А. Л. Символы русской государственности. -М. :Изд-во МГУ,1993. -96 с. :ил., фот. ISBN 5-211-02521-0
  11. Костомаров Н. И. Русская история в жизнеописаниях ее главнейших деятелей. Olma Media Group, 2004
  12. Зимин А. А., Хорошкевич А. Л. Россия времени Ивана Грозного. Москва, Наука, 1982
  13. Перевезенцев, С. В. Смысл русской истории, Вече, 2004
  14. Richard Pipes, Russia under the old regime, page 83